Council Post: Six Tips For E-Commerce Owners Navigating A Decentralized Workforce

I’ve been working in an office during this past year, but many of my friends and colleagues have been forced to work remotely as the world adjusts to a new mindset. Recent events have created a boon for the e-commerce industry. According to data from the United States Department of Commerce, sales are up more than 30% from this same time last year.

If you’re one of the millions of e-retailers who are selling online, you’re already aware of how a decentralized workforce has affected you and your ability to run your business. As a fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, I’m here to offer you some of the helpful tips I’ve learned along the way, so you can make the most of every working minute.

1. Find your “zen” and take advantage of remote team tools.

Working remotely has challenged the entire working world to adapt quickly to the concept of the home office. For many of us, it’s a new world filled with challenges we’re unaccustomed to, such as barking dogs, a needy cat or kids who used to have in-person classes all day. To account for these changes, I can offer a few tips that work for me when I am remote:

• Find your “zen” space. Whether that’s a secluded room away from kids and pets or outside by the pool, you’ll need to be as focused as possible to grind out your daily workload. 

• Consider adding team tools (if you’re managing a business) or familiarizing yourself with the tools your e-commerce business is proposing. Popular tools include Slack, Zoom, Teams, Google One and Basecamps. 

2. Increase your social media marketing budget.

Social media usage has skyrocketed during the current pandemic, as people lean on popular social services to communicate with one another and express themselves. Social media tools like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have experienced a 50% increase in the hardest-hit countries, like the U.S., while other go-to services like Twitter have seen a 23% uptick in usage. What this means for e-commerce businesses is that you can take advantage of record-low bid rates on pay per click ads, while enjoying some of the strongest exposure you could ever hope for, helping you make the most of every penny you spend on ads while assuring healthy engagement rates and click-through ratios. 

3. Take advantage of PPC credits.

Google, the most popular PPC advertising platform, is still offering credits to help support small businesses during these uncertain economic times. According to Google’s Ad Words Support Page: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our communities. They represent about 90 percent of all businesses and more than half of employment worldwide, according to the World Bank. COVID-19 has posed a particular challenge to these businesses, who may be facing closures and declining revenue even as they find ways to support and protect their employees. The ad credit is our gesture to show support and solidarity with these businesses as they continue to engage with their customers.”

This is essentially free advertising money you can use for PPC. But to take advantage of it and generate more sales, you’ll need to have had an Ad Words account in place prior to February 2020.

4. Add videos to your retargeting method.

Video already is one of the hottest commodities online. A testament to this is the success of platforms like YouTube and a newer entrant, TikTok. However, many e-commerce owners are unaware that they can add videos to their remarketing campaigns. Why add videos to a retargeting method? According to Google, six out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to TV. Additionally, Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey found that 88% of marketers saw a 5% return on investment with video, as compared to other forms of advertising, with 99% of marketers planning on using video ads again in the next quarter. 

5. Outdo your competitor’s shipping speed.

The pandemic has understandably made shipping rather sluggish. Carriers are bogged down. They are short on employees to fill key positions and some employees have left because they want to minimize the exposure that comes with delivering packages to residential front doors or local businesses. That being said, there are still ways that you can offer faster shipping than your competitor. 

I wrote previously about how to balance your shipping strategy, but here are a few more tips: 

• Use multiple carrier options to increase speed. 

• Offer customers different shipping methods, even if the faster ones cost more. 

• Don’t overpromise and underdeliver; be honest about the time it will take to ship. 

• Give your customers complete visibility into their order, shipping timeline and return options. 

• Lastly, be sure you understand your actual shipping cost. 

6. Make returns as easy as possible. 

Don’t forget about returns because they will happen. According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Report (download required), 66% of consumers read your return policy before clicking the “buy” button. Be the beacon of hope for the undecided shopper, and let them know that you’re happy to do business with them, even if their first purchase doesn’t work out. Returns are part of the sales cycle in e-commerce, and they’re likely a bit higher during this time of increased dependency on e-commerce. 

Above all else, make shopping at your online store a positive experience for customers with transparency, order visibility, fast shipping, easy returns and great communication throughout. Do this, and I think you’ll find your customers will be elated.

Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives.

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